Perhaps because it can often coincide with Easter observances — both inside and outside churches — the significance of today’s date in Ireland’s story tends to ring few, if any, bells in minds other than those of historians.
It was on April 18, 1949, that the Irish State officially became an internationally recognised republic, the final, yet now neglected, stop on the country’s long and bloody journey to independence that was only partially delivered by the Anglo-Irish Treaty and our 1937 Constitution. It closed the last vestiges of British control, which, until then, had given London the right to approve Irish diplomatic appointments and had even created uncertainty as to who was our head of state; the republic’s president or England’s king.
As Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has put it, Ireland being a republic was “once the stuff of dreams”. Perhaps he, or his successor, will start thinking seriously about ways in which the 75th anniversary, in 2024, can be celebrated as joyously as they did across the country in 1949, with bands, parades, beacons, and cries of ‘Up the Republic!’